RIC 504Not a pretty picture

June 28, 2017


                             plerisque in rebus gerendis tarditas et procrastinatio odiosa est.

                             In doing most things, tardiness and procrastination are really really bad.

Cicero, Philip. vi. 3.


                             miserum est opus, igitur demum fodere puteum, ubi sitis fauces tenet.

                             It's miserable when thirst grabs you by the throat and you're still busy digging out the well.

Plautus, Mostell. ii. I. 32


Image result for ornate initial letter THIS BLOG ARTICLE is entirely my girlfriend's idea.  I will explain this.

          I was complaining, whining might actually be the more accurate term, in an email to her this morning about how writers' block, combined with the legendary Hazeltonian avoidance of work and love of procrastination, was delaying my blog about the M3 reverse, what I like to call the "Flavian Minerva." (I mean, there are several coins to scan and countless maps and diagrams, etc., and literally sheaves of hours of writing ahead before that article ever sees the light of day.) Meanwhile the current blog article, the one about the Samaritan woman at the well, lies about on the site like Rip Van Winkle, snoring and gathering dust and cobwebs. Not a pretty picture.

          So anyway my girlfriend called me back immediately with the suggestion I write about something else instead, perhaps a Coin of the Month or something. So I am doing that and apparently blaming her (with legendary Hazeltonian gallantry).



          This is RIC 504 (C), AR Denarius (19mm, 3.54g, 6h). Rome mint, struck Jan 1 - c. Sept 15, 87, first issue.  It is (C), a "common" coin, which means it is somewhat scarce but not very scarce. It was minted during what is called the "high style," meaning during a sort of Baroque period of Flavian Mannerism. The necks of the portraits are generally graceful and elongated and the features are beautifully stylized (cf RIC 188 on the banner of this website).

          It's a nice little coin, but look at the portrait. The neck is too long but not graceful, nothing more than a pedestal to rest the head upon. And look at the head, the huge nose, the cavernous eyes beneath a bulbous forehead, the enormous upper lip, the way Domitian's own hair is portrayed in woolly tufts while only the hair on his wig stands out in crisp curls. This isn't a portrait, it's a caricature, a cartoon! Not a pretty picture. It makes a person wonder whether the engraver ever survived to make another coin.


          Next: "The 'Flavian' Minerva: M3, outlandish juxtaposition or dream girl"

© Jim Hazelton, 2018